It looks like we have another name and ownership change for one of the major Sakai partners, but this time the changes have a very closed feel to them. rSmart, led by Chris Coppola at the time, was one of the original Sakai commercial affiliates, and the LMS portion of the company was eventually sold to Asahi Net International (ANI) in 2013. ANI had already been involved in the Sakai community as a Japanese partner and also as an partial investor in rSmart, so that acquisition was not seen as a huge change other than setting the stage for KualiCo to acquire the remainder of rSmart.
In late April, however, ANI was acquired by a private equity firm out of Los Angeles (Vert Capital), and this move is different. Vert Capital did not just acquire ANI; they also changed the company name to Scriba and took the company off the grid for now. No news items explaining intentions, no web site, no changes to Apereo project page, etc. Japanese press coverage of the acquisition mentions the parent company’s desire to focus on the Japanese market.
What is going on?
A rudimentary search for “Scriba education learning management” brings up no news or web sites, but it does bring up a recent project on freelancer.com to create the new company logo. By the way, paying $90 gets 548 entries from 237 freelancers – and adjuncts are underpaid?! The winning logo has a certain “we’re like Moodle, but our hat covers two letters” message that I find quite original.
Furthermore, neither scriba.com nor scriba.org are registered by the company (both are owned by keyword naming companies that pre-purchase domains for later sale). The ANI website mentions nothing about the sale, and in fact has no news since October, 2014. The Sakai project page has no update, but the sponsorship page for Open Apereo conference last week did have new logo. This sale has the appearance of a last-minute acquisition under financial distress1.
Vert Capital is a “private investment firm that provides innovative financing solutions to lower/middle market companies globally”. The managing director who is leading this deal, Adam Levin, has a background in social media and general media companies. Does Vert Capital plan on making further ed tech acquisitions? I wouldn’t be surprised, as ed tech is fast-changing market yet more companies are in need of “innovative financing”.
I have asked Apereo for comment, and I will share that or any other updates as I get it. If anyone has more information, feel free to share in comments or send me a private note.
H/T: Thanks to reader who wishes to remain anonymous for some pointers to public information for this post.
By Phil Hill
- Note, that is conjecture. [↩]